The state of emergency has been extended until May 12, 2020.
B.C. extending state of emergency to continue COVID-19 response
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Henry, Restricts Private Home Gatherings to Immediate Household Members Plus ‘Safe Six’; Masks Should Be Worn in all Indoor SpacesDate:October 28, 2020
Recently, BC has seen a notable increase in new cases and transmission of COVID-19 as a direct result of social gatherings in private homes.
As a result, a new provincial health officer order was put in place on October 26, 2020, limiting gatherings in private homes to no more than your immediate household, plus six others. This is a provincewide order that applies to all homes for all occasions. Enforcement will be stepped up to ensure people are following this new order.
Dr. Bonnie Henry also emphasized the importance of wearing a mask: “In addition to this new order and in light of the increased risks with respiratory season, the expectation is that people will wear masks in all indoor public spaces. As part of this, businesses are asked to review their COVID-19 safety plans with this in mind. If you are in a high-traffic area or among many people outside of your household while at work, a mask will help to protect you and those around you.
“Now is the time for all of us to work together – while staying apart – to slow the spread of COVID-19, and always keeping our groups small and using our layers of protection is the best way for us to do that.”
BC CDC Provides Guidelines for Halloween During COVID-19Date:October 28, 2020
The BC Centre for Disease Control has provided Halloween guidelines for COVID-19.
British Columbians are asked to skip Halloween parties this year, trick or treat in small groups and get creative in making space when handing out treats. If you celebrate with others, keep it within your social group (stick to six). With regard to trick or treating, keep it to your local neighbourhood this year and stick to groups of six people or less. Avoid trick-or-treating in busy areas or indoors (in places like malls) since there may not be enough space to distance. Indoor spaces may require a non-medical mask or face covering. Make sure to wash your hands before you go out, when you get home, and before eating treats. If you are handing out treats, wear a non medical mask that covers your nose and mouth. Use tongs, a baking sheet or make a candy slide to give more space when handing out candy. Lastly, turn off your porch light and stay at home if you are sick or self-isolating.
Advanced Voting Begins Ahead of October 24 Provincial ElectionDate:October 16, 2020
Advanced voting commenced on Thursday, October 15 and will continue until Wednesday, October 21. Election day is October 24, 2020. Voting stations are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All registered voters should have received a voter card by mail. It is recommended to bring it with you when you go to vote. See HERE for where and when to vote and what ID to bring with you.
CERB Reaches its EndDate:September 28, 2020
September 26, 2020 was the last day of the final eligibility period of CERB. If you are still unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for employment insurance (or enhanced EI), or other Canada Recovery Benefits (pending parliament approval). To learn more about your options or to apply for EI, see Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. You may still apply for payments retroactive March 15, 2020 to September 26, 2020 and you have until December 2, 2020 to apply.
BC Government Announces October 24th Snap ElectionDate:September 21, 2020
Horgan announced Monday he has called an election for Oct. 24, 2020. after meeting with Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin and asking her to dissolve the legislature.
"I've struggled mightily with this decision and it did not come easily to me," said Horgan, acknowledging the controversy of calling an early election during a global pandemic.
But he said that with COVID-19 expected to be a fact of life for the next year, an election made sense now.
"We can either delay that decision and create uncertain and instability over the 12 months…. or we can do what I believe is always the right thing, and ask British Columbians what they think."
Elections BC said there will be advanced voting from Friday, Oct. 16 to Wednesday, Oct. 21. Voters can cast a ballot by mail as well.
New Westminster Law Courts Closure - September 14, 2020Date:September 14, 2020
Due to the fire at the New Westminster pier and the impact on air quality at the courthouse, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has directed that the Supreme Court registry at New Westminster Law Courts has been closed for today, September 14, 2020. All Supreme Court proceedings scheduled for hearing at New Westminster today have been adjourned.
If you have an appearance scheduled in New Westminster today and require further information, please contact Supreme Court Scheduling at 604-660-8551.
The Supreme Court is co-located with the Provincial Court in New Westminster. For more information about the Provincial Court in New Westminster, please consult the Provincial Court website. This situation is being monitored and daily updates will be posted on the Supreme Court website.
Effective September 8, all BC nightclubs and banquet halls ordered to be closed until further notice, new restrictions on liquor sales at bars and restaurantsDate:September 9, 2020
Effective immediately (Sept. 8, 2020), the BC Government has ordered all nightclubs and stand-alone banquet halls to close until further notice.
Additionally, liquor sales in all bars, pubs and restaurants must cease at 10 p.m. and they must close at 11 p.m., unless providing a full meal service, in which case they may stay open, but may not serve liquor until 11 a.m. the following day. Music or other background sounds, such as from televisions in bars, lounges, pubs and restaurants, must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation.
These measures come as a result of the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases in BC. Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix are urging British Columbians to heed provincial health warnings and orders: “As we get back to work and back to school this fall, it is the time for all of us to cut back on our social interactions to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 for ourselves and everyone around us.”
For the full update, see the Sept. 8 Joint statement on B.C.’s COVID-19 response.
BC Provincial Court back in full swing!Date:August 26, 2020
Although operations look a bit different, the BC Provincial Court has resumed all types of proceedings and is again accepting all new filings. In March 2020, the Provincial Court of British Columbia responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by limiting court operations to urgent matters. Since then the Court has gradually expanded its operation while modifying both court procedures and physical spaces to protect the health of court users and reduce the number of people gathering in courthouses.
For a summary of the progress and current alternative procedures in place, see HERE.
Masks Mandatory on all BC Transit and Ferries, More Stores introduce mandatory masksDate:August 24, 2020
Today masks have become mandatory for all BC Transit and BC Ferry riders. While a limited supply of masks will be available to some riders, it is best to supply your own face mask. Riders who refuse to comply with the policy may be subject to fines up to $150. Children under 5 or anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask will be exempt.
On August 12, Walmart made masks mandatory in all its Canadian stores. T & T Supermarkets have required masks since May. Starting Saturday August 29th, Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills will require all customers to wear a mask upon entry to their stores. Children and people unable to wear a mask for medical reasons are exempt.
As more companies and organizations make masks mandatory, it is important to check for updates. Many individual stores and personal services businesses, such as hair salons, already require customers to wear a mask. If you do not already wear a mask while in indoor public spaces, it may be helpful to carry a mask with you in case you are asked to cover your face.
Federal Government introduces measures to enhanced EI as CERB nears end, and introduces new recovery benefits to support CanadiansDate:August 21, 2020
On Sept. 27, almost all CERB claimants who qualify for EI and are still unable to work will be transitioned onto the EI program as their avenue for support once their 28 weeks of CERB run out. For most workers, this transition will be automatic however there will be a few cases in which applications will need to be filed, and those people are being contacted by the government.
The government has also introduced enhanced measures to help Canadians access EI. Workers must have 120 insurable hours to qualify. Those eligible will receive a minimum benefit rate of $400 per week for at least 26 weeks.
Lastly, three new benefits will come into effect September 27.
The Canada Recovery Benefit would be effective for one year and would provide a benefit amount of $400 per week for up to 26 weeks to workers who are not eligible for EI, mainly the self-employed and including those working in the gig economy. These individuals may still require income support if they continue to be unable to return to work due to COVID-19 or had their income reduced relative to pre-COVID-19 pandemic (attestation-based).
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit would provide $500 per week, for up to two weeks, effective September 27, 2020 for one year, for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. This new benefit would fulfil the Government of Canada’s commitment as part of the Safe Restart Agreement with provinces and territories to provide up to two weeks of sick leave to all Canadians in the context of COVID-19.
The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit, would be effective for one year, and provide $500 per week, for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible Canadians who have been impacted by the closure of daycares, schools, day programs and other care facilities.
To learn more about the enhanced EI or the new benefits, see Supporting Canadians Through the Next Phase of the Economy Re-opening: Increased Access to EI and Recovery Benefits.